Sunday, August 3, 2014

Lammas, Lughnasadh, and Celebrating Your Personal Harvest


This week (in the Northern Hemisphere) is the celebration of Lughnasadh or Lammas, depending upon your particular flavor of Wicca.  And it is a cross-quarter day between the Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox.  

 
Ok, we’ll do a quick tangent here for folks who may not know the difference:

Lughnasadh is the Gaelic holy day.  Typically considered to be a celebration of the God Lugh (hence Lughnasadh), it was actually a day of games and celebrations for the first harvest in honor of his mother, Tailtu.

Lammas has its origins in more Anglo-Saxon tradition, and is also a celebration of the first harvest.  Loaves of bread were baked and used in blessings or charms.

It is also one of the cross-quarter days, a day that marks the exact middle point between a Solstice and Equinox (and as such actually floats a little year to year).


Regardless of the name, the overall theme of this holy day is the Harvest, and is the first of three harvest festivals.  For the ancient Pagans, it marked the time of the first Harvest, the first reaping.  It is a recognition of the hard work of the growing season, the sacrifice of feeding the tribe, and of gratitude.

Most of us aren’t involved in growing and feeding a tribe anymore, and our seasons vary drastically from the lands of our ancestors.  Yet, there is still something that seems to beat at the core of our experience and seeks to align with these ancient cycles, thus we can relate on some meta or archetypal level.

For me, the period of the First Harvest often brings some regret.  The prime planting and growing season is done and it’s time to reap what we have sown. (Am I the only one that always cringes a little and thinks “oh, sh*t” at that statement?)  I think about all the things I didn’t get around to “planting”.  The projects and plans I started to think about and never got around to implementing.  I think of my big dreams and goals for my life, and then mourn another year passing by in which I didn’t accomplish All The Things.

Then I think of the things I did accomplish.  And remember that I actually did a lot of amazing things.  Some of them I had planned, some of them I didn’t.  Some of them consciously moved me towards my goals, some were a shift initiated by a Goddess.  All of them have been another step on my journey.

People that want to make a difference in the world tend to get so bogged down and overcommitted, don’t we?  We forget that every little step moves us; sometimes forward, sometimes backward or sideways, but always movement and always toward our true purpose.

I’ll do another post on goal setting, which is really just intention setting in a buzzword jacket.  But for now, I offer this exercise to celebrate the Harvest in your life:

 Celebrating Your Personal Harvest

List the goals you set for yourself this Spring (or throughout the year).

List what you accomplished, whether you set it as a goal or not.

Take a look at your two lists. Which of your goals did you accomplish?  Write them on another piece of paper.  Place those on your altar.  Flex your muscles and give yourself a pat on the back.  Brag to your friends.  Good job, you!!!

What did you accomplish that you did not set out as a goal?  Were they helpful?  Do they offer an opportunity in your life?  Write those opportunities down to consider further.  Then write those accomplishments on another piece of paper, and also place them on your altar.  Offer your gratitude to the Divine for these gifts.  You did a great job by remaining open to the mystery.  Celebrate! Toast yourself!

Now, take a close look at the remainder of your list of goals.  These are goals that you did not accomplish.  Do they still apply?  Are they reasonable?  Do you want to continue to work toward them?  If not, now is the time to let them go, so you are not carrying the additional burden into the dark of the year.  Write the things you want to let go of on a piece of paper, and magically release them however feels appropriate to you.  I like to offer them to a corn dolly by placing them inside, and then burning the corn dolly.  You could bury them, burn them, compost them, offer them to the water, whatever works for you and is environmentally friendly.

Write down the goals that you are keeping.  Place them on your altar, tape them to your mirror, tuck them in your journal… just put them somewhere you will see them regularly.  Know that you can continue to work towards these goals.

Celebrate another toast to yourself, and enjoy the blessed life that you are co-creating every day!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Threshold Generation

Inspired by the death of Margot Adler, and the many before her.

I am an early 30-something. I read voraciously as a child, explored the world around me, and began having and recognizing my first spiritual experiences by the time I was 5. At 18, I had my first true Awakening to who I was and my purpose in this life. Through that time, I devoured every book I could find on Goddesses, Wicca, Witchcraft, and Paganism. Who were these people that felt so similar to the way I did? You mean there are others, and have been for a couple of decades? I’m not alone? I didn’t know anyone else personally, but knowing they were out there was exhilarating.

Enter the Internet. I remember the internet coming into my home my last year or two of high school. Suddenly, I had access to other people from all around the world. I began talking to others who had been in “The Community” for years. I had people to look up to, to emulate, to respect. Down the rabbit hole I went.

Many years and many communities later, here I stand. I was brought up having to learn everything on my own, but matured with connections to some of the most influential people in our movement. Some at arm’s length, some very close to my heart. I’ve participated in some amazing things, built and facilitated some incredible groups and organizations, and began leading in my early 20’s.

Technically, we are considered Generation Y. I hate that moniker and the entire stereotype that has formed around it. As Hecate Demeter said here, we don’t get the credit we deserve.

But, there is something generational happening. Those in my age range have been sandwiched between card catalogues and the dawn of the internet age, between the rise and fall of some of the greatest individuals of the movement(s), between struggling for information and being overwhelmed by it, between the passion of revolution and the passivity of numbness. We straddle two worlds and two eras.

We are the Threshold Generation.

We stand poised, ready, waiting, prepared to cross the threshold and fully step into our leadership. And yet, we look around and wonder, who and what are we going to lead?  An apathetic and disillusioned younger generation that would rather tweet than talk?  A planet that we have sickened? Countries ravaged by war and poverty?

And now, in the last couple of years, many foremothers, forefathers, and influential people of the Pagan Movement have died. We lost my own dear teacher and friend, Shekhinah Mountainwater, in August 2007, and I’ve struggled since. The losses are painful and sad. It also strikes a chord of fear and dismay in my heart. These people who laid the foundation and nurtured the soil of our movement are gone. I look around at what is left without them, and it worries me. Those who are like me in my generation want to do you proud, to carry the torch, to make a difference in this world that you cared so much about, and were brave enough to stand for.

There are a few lights that shine, but they are harder and harder to see in the fog of frightening news, “reality” TV, and information overload. Finding a mentor seems to be even harder, as people jockey for their 5 minutes of internet fame, and charge a thousand dollars or more for classes on “finding your inner ….” (I am 100% behind financially supporting the leaders, teachers, and clergy of our religions, but I see this getting out of control) Even finding like-minded individuals seems to be getting harder as we divide ourselves across lines of false conflict and illusion.

The need and desire is just as real now as it was when books like Drawing Down the Moon, Spiral Dance, The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries, Ariadne’s Thread, and others came out. It’s just clouded by the illusion of the age we live in.

I don’t yet know where we go from here. There is always talk about those buzzwords authenticity and inclusion and diversity; about right living, standing in your power, and being true to yourself while respecting differences. The challenges that face us are great. They might be insurmountable. But those who came before felt the same way and did it anyway, laying the foundation piece by piece, figuring it out as they went along. We must find a way to continue that work.

I plead to the older generations to reach out to those who are straddling worlds and trying to trudge on through the muck.  I call upon my generation to take your place among your peers - some of us do still give a shit.  And I promise the younger generation that I will do my best to leave a future for you, and my hand will be here when you are ready.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

This blog has laid dormant for years, and occasionally I would gaze at it, pondering. Quickly I would return to thinking that I could not manage a blog right now, and close the window. I started a couple of other blogs, specifically for my poetry, but eventually those too have become archives in the vast tombs of the internet.

Now, I am resurrecting it, and will be publishing to only this blog. Why continue to fragment and compartmentalize who I am? Why should I shy away from sharing all that I am and do with the world, especially when it is under some degree anonymity? Indeed. I shan't.

So, here we go. We'll take it a day at a time and see what magic happens! I hope you will join the journey.

Towanda!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Prayer to Hekate

Prayer to Hekate

written by Syren

Samhaintide in the Year of our Goddess 10,009


Ancient One,

You who were created from darkness,

born from the womb of nothingness

Hekate, Mostly Lovely One,

to You I pray.

Guardian of Crossroads

You who sees what came before, what is, and what lies ahead

Propolos, guide me on my path.

Keeper of the Keys

Protectress of the ancient wisdom

I pray to thee, as your daughter

Most Magnificent Goddess

Phosporous One, bare your torch for me.

Through you, I face my fears

Guiding me into ever greater depths,

until you stand with me at the final mystery.

Hekate Soteira

Goddess, Savior

It is in honor of you that I pray.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Hekate

The first time I meditated on Hekate, she appeared to me in a continually shifting face- wrinkled skin with young, glinting eyes- a young face with wise, ancient eyes- black hair, grey hair, white hair- as soon as I thought I had a fix on what she looked like, she shifted again. I knew from that point that all of my preconceived notions I had of her were wrong, or only partially right.

I consider Hekate to be a matron Goddess of feminists. Her powers have been degraded and obscured by patriarchy for millenia. Once considered a goddess of Heaven, Earth, Sea, and (later) Underworld, a wise maiden moon goddess, she has become to many a gruesome hag associated with witches (in the pejorative sense) and black magic, death and ghosts, and a danger to men. She represents patriarchy's unconscious fear of the dark feminine.

She is every woman's potential- witch, seer, medium, healer. She is the shamanic priestess who moves between worlds, bridging the worlds to effect healing and regeneration.

As the Triple Goddess at the crossroads, she helps us to see past, present, and future with clarity. We look back to the lessons we have learned, see the warnings and potential dangers in front of us, and our path into the future. She whispers to us, gives us prophetic dreams and psychic visions.

She represents the Dark Maiden-Mother-Crone – she is all three in one and to me, surpasses this common method of classifying Goddesses. She is the embodiment of these energies and shows us that these archetypal energies are within us at all times as well. Just as she easily slips between worlds, she shifts from Maiden-Mother-Crone.

Hekate is a most ancient goddess; though she is most commonly thought of as Greek, she far precedes Greek society. Hekate originates from the birth of time. She is a daughter of the Most Ancient One- she came forth from the Nothingness of Creation. The Greeks refer to her, and the other Ancient Ones, as the Titans- a race of deities who were present before the arrival of their Gods. Hekate has also been referred to as a daughter of Nyx, the Goddess of Creation and of Night. She has been linked with deities from many ancient cultures, including Egypt, Asia Minor, and Old Middle Europe. Her presence is eternal and her worship is ancient.

However, it is without a doubt that the most well known place of her worship is Greece. We have the greatest record of her worship as well as mythological stories from that period. She was worshiped as a Greek Goddess and was also absorbed into the Roman pantheon. There are approximately twelve centuries of recorded Hekate worship, from 8th century BCE to 4th century CE.

For the Greeks, she served several functions. No single one is unique to her, but she is the only goddess to serve all of them.

Hekate Propylaia- 'the one before the gate'. She offered offered protection from outside evils. As protectress, statues were erected outside temple entrances, outside of homes, and at crossroads. These statues were called hecterion, and represented her as triforma- either 3 maidens with 6 arms, or as one body with 3 representative heads of her sacred animals.

Hekate Propolos- 'attendant who leads'. This comes from her mythology as attendant to Persephone, helping to lead her from the underworld. However, she also led spirits of the dead across the river and to the spirit's final place in the underworld.

Hekate Phosphorous- 'light bringer'. She is commonly represented as carrying two torches. She is the torch bearer that lights the way. A common invocation- En Erebos Phos: In Darkness, Light- is in homage to this aspect.

Hekate Kourotrophos- 'child's nurse'. Many Greek goddesses were considered protectresses of mothers and children, so this is not unique to her. However it is played out in the Demeter-Persephone myth.

Hekate Chthonia- 'of the earth'. This is probably a later epithet, and came to be associated with her qualities as a sorceress.

Hekate Soteira- 'savior'. To the Chaldean oracles, she was known as “savior of the world.”

To me, all of these are divisions of her totality as Ancient One. She arose directly from the primal void and the forces that were present at the onset of creation. As such, she is guardian of the vast depths of our unconscious and the collective memory. She lights the way, showing us our vast past, illuminating our origins.

As she was present at the beginning, she is all things. She holds within her the seed of creation, the spark of all being. She is the deepest dark of nothingness, and she is the light of new life. She is the old crone of death, the mother giving birth, the protective and fierce maiden. She is life and she is death. When we invoke her, we invoke all these things. We invoke the power of the cosmos. And she does not let us take it lightly. She is to be approached with reverence and respect, and she expects us to hold the same reverence and respect for ourselves- for we all all made of the same divine essence. It is that that she protects for us, and that which she illuminates when we are ready.

Whenever I have need of her, she is there. She has placed a cloak about my shoulders when I needed comfort. She has protected me when I felt unsafe. She has dragged me into the darkest, swirling void so that I may find my own light and know true magic and rebirth. She is indeed my Soteira.


Friday, May 1, 2009

Beltane - First Blood

Now is the time when the Earth unfolds;
opening herself.
The auric green glow of fresh, young leaves send us into ecstatic revelry.
Her blossoms reach out, begging to be pollinated.

In the mysteries of wombyn, this is the time when the Maiden Goddess first communes with her own creative power.
She feels her sensual, fertile self, and begins her transition into the Mother.

This corresponds to a young woman's First Blood. Her Menarche opens the doorway from childhood to adulthood. She becomes virgin; whole until herself.
She now knows the power of blood; her capability of creation and her capacity for destruction.
She begins to sense her own sexuality. And she opens to all of the possibilities, and responsibilities, of being a wombyn.

So, if you are a woman, take this time to think back to your menarche. What was this time like for you? How do you feel about your moontime now? Are you able to express your sexuality, your creativity? If you have a daughter, did you or will you help her to honor this important rite of passage?

If you are a man, how do you treat the women in your life, especially around the time of their moon? Do you honor your own cycles of the Goddess within you?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Depression Ritual

I wrote this ritual a couple of years ago. I and others have found it to be helpful. I share it here, so that you can use and share it freely.

Honoring Our Depression

Created by Syren

syrenofminds@gmail.com

This ritual is not meant to take the place of professional attention. If you suffer from depression, or feel depressed, please seek medical and therapeutic attention.



This is a transformative ritual, centered on recognizing and honoring all parts of what it means to be a person with depression.


Before Ritual:


-- create/find image representing negative experiences (beast or monster)

-- create/find image representing positive experiences (growth,
self-knowledge, healing)

-- create/find goddess of depression, healing (I view her as a serpent goddess)

-- create a talisman, piece of art, etc for use during difficult times, and for daily recognition (can also be done during ritual)

-- create invoking/positive and devoking/negative pentacles

-- Find a name representing this part of yourself


This ritual can be performed alone, or with a group of trusted sisters, preferably at the Dark Moon. Work on the above contemplative, creative activities during the waning moon, and continue with meditations and other magickal healing work during the waxing moon. You may adapt this ritual to meet your particular needs and situation, however the above activities begin a deep process of contemplation and healing that is the true center of this ritual.


Decorate the altar to your liking, being sure to include items for the Dark Goddess. I recommend colors of black, silver, reds, blues, and green; for shadow work, transformation, and healing.


Now sit or stand in front of your altar.

Purify yourself

-- sage smudge for Air

-- spring water annointing for Water

-- candle flame brush for Fire

-- salt sprinkle for Earth

Ground and Center

Call/invoke the Five Corners: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit

Cast the Circle


The following can be adapted for solitary or group ritual. If in group ritual, use a talking stick as you go around the circle and talk about each of these things.


Call upon the image and/or name of the Goddess you have found or created who has helped you, or who represents your process and healing. Speak about Her, call to Her, offer your thanks and requests.


Bring forth the image of the negative aspect of your depression. Speak out loud about this image, what it means to you, and what it represents. Speak about those aspects that you wish to accept, and transform. You may also share with the Universe/your circle how these aspects have affected your life.


Bring forth the image of the positive aspects of your depression. Speak out loud about the positive effects depression has had upon your life. Take extra time with this if you need to. Think about any self-awakening, deepening and emotional understanding that may have taken place. Speak about how this has affected you, and give thanks for any positive changes.


Now place your invoking and devoking pentacles before you. Write around the devoking pentacle those things that you wish to let go of. You can correspond different things to the element it is associated with. For example, inability to concentrate would be in Air, body aches would be in Earth, sadness would be in Water, lethargy would be in Fire, inability to feel connected would be in Spirit.

Do the same thing with the invoking pentacle, and write in any correspondences with the elements. There are no right or wrong answers, just go with whatever comes to heart and mind.


Begin a MA chant, raising a cone of energy. Raise your voice a little higher with each of seven chantings, corresponding to the seven chakras. Visualize the energy rising higher, the colors of the chakras blending and rising into a cone above you. Chant as long as you like. If you have not created your talisman, begin working on this as you chant and raise energy. Let the creative flow enter and move through you as the energy rises. If you have already created it, hold it to you, charging it with your energy.


Sit and spin in the cone, as it peaks. Enjoy the energy, let it embrace you and heal you. When you are ready, say your chosen name aloud, with pride. Reflect again upon all of the issues and aspects that you have brought forth. When you are ready, release the cone of energy into the sky, sending your invocations and your newly embraced identity into the Universe, and all that you wish to release into Her cauldron to be cleansed. Ground yourself and send any excess energy into the Earth.


Give your thanks, release the circle, and enjoy some delicious comforting food and drink.


Blessed Be.


*The chakra cone meditation was originally conceived by Shekhinah Mountainwater.


Meeting our Depression Meditation

By Syren

syrenofminds@gmail.com


Can be included in the Honoring our Depression ritual, or used during your waxing moon workings.


Sit or lay comfortably, keeping your back straight and your feet on the floor. Bring yourself into a deep, relaxed state. Breathe deeply, naturally, without force. Feel yourself relax, your consciousness to draw inwards. Find yourself standing in a forest. There is a soft path before you, wandering off deep into the woods. You feel pulled to walk upon it, yet you may feel some hesitation. You reach into your pocket, and there is your talisman. This gives you comfort, and you begin walking along the path.


The trees begin to get denser, and you feel the energy become deeper, more otherwordly. You feel as if you have been here before. As you walk along, the trees seem to reach down to you, in recognition. You look to the side, and there is a small clearing just beyond some trees. You feel pulled to this space. As you enter the clearing, you feel someone is there, waiting for you. You blink the sun from your eyes, and there before you is the living aspect image of the positive experiences of depression. You introduce yourself with your newly chosen name. This being has much to share with you; you sit together in the clearing and the both of you speak.


Once you have said all that needs to be said, and received any messages, thank this being, turn around, and return to the path. You continue to walk along, and the energy shifts again. The trees lean closer, whispering. You feel a sense of slight unease, yet you know that you are protected and you feel strong. You walk determinedly down the path, and it grows darker, like dusk. You begin to notice a darkened clearing off in the distance, and you know that you are meant to go there. You take a moment, breathe deeply, and feel the strength rising up within you. You step foot off into this open ring of trees. As your eyes adjust to the changing light, you feel another presence with you. This presence is one that you know well, and one that you have wanted to understand. Before you, you see the living aspect image of the negative experiences of depression. Introduce yourself with your newly chosen name. You feel comfortable now, speaking with this being. The both of you sit together and speak.


Once you have come to understand this being better, and you have said all that you need to say, give your thanks, and return to the path. It is dark now, but you can see the stars through the trees, and the Moon beginning to show Her face. The trees still surround you, offering you their strength and protection. You continue down the path with full sight. You walk along, and begin to see a very dark area rise before and above you. You realize this is a cave; no, it is THE cave. You reach the vulva like opening of this giant cave. You stop, place your hands upon the firm stone, take a breath, and enter. The cave glows with a faint light and you are able to see well. You hands glide upon the smooth, cool rock as you walk along. You begin to see a light in the distance, and feel a warmth emanating out towards you. You step into a large open room.


There is a fire burning, with a cauldron hung above it, and a pool of water to the side. You sit down, warming your back at the fire, and gaze into the never-ending pool. You see images in the water, and they all have special meaning to you. As the images begin to fade, you sense a presence at the other side of the fire. You turn around, and before you is the glorious presence of your Goddess. She walks towards you, and you embrace. She already knows of your new name, as She is the one who gave it to you, and She greets you this way. She has much to share with you, and much love to give you. Spend all of the time that you need with Her.


When it is time, give your thanks and praise to this Goddess. She gives you a loving smile, and you know that you are welcome in this place at anytime. You take your leave, and walk back out of the cave.


You return the way that you came. You pass the clearing with your transformed negative aspect; you whisper a final thank you. The sky begins to lighten slightly as you walk along. The trees whisper and brush you as you go. You pass the clearing with your honored positive aspect; and again you whisper a thank you. You continue out of the woods, the sky lightens, you return to the place from which you started, and the sun is shining, the wind gently caresses you, and you feel at peace.


Slowly bring your consciousness back into your physical self. Tap your feet, pat your arms and legs. Wiggle, move. Give yourself plenty of time to return into the present. When you are ready, ground yourself back to the Earth. Get up, and eat and drink something enjoyable.


Blessed Be.